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Research Report / Transport

Governance of Competition in the Swiss and European Railway Sector

Author(s): ROSA Andrea, FINGER Matthias

Editor(s): BERT Nadia

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This report looks at the railway systems in France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland with a focus on passenger services with the aim to understand whether the institutional approaches to governing those systems may be typified, and whether systemic performance may be related to the institutional approaches.

The analysis points to a variety of institutional approaches and, in terms of institutional arrangements, convergence among countries cannot be detected. While the policies and different Directives of the European Commission certainly do play a role, the institutional path of each country is essential in respectively defining the institutional approaches.

The establishment of a relationship between the evolution of the institutional arrangements and of the systemic indicators has been unattainable. At times, improvements in performance that coincide with institutional reforms were perceived. However, the few instances are too little to count as clear evidence of the effect of the reforms in question. Important observations are that local peculiarities, evolution paths, national characteristics should take first place when deciding on institutional arrangements. Further, as the governance of railways accounts for more actors than that of other network industries, the role of each actor needs to be clarified. Lastly, independent from the governance model there is a pressing need for an actor with full knowledge of the system, strategic outlook, and clear perception of users’ needs.